Local restaurateur to lead National Restaurant AssociationWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Sylvania resident Michael Gibbons will become the chairman of the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in September.
Gibbons, president of Mainstreet Ventures Inc. in Ann Arbor, will be installed at a ceremony and give an inaugural address Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C., where the national organization is based. He will lead his first meeting of its board there Sept. 13.
NRA recently underwent a makeover, with a new strategic plan for reorganization with a new chief executive officer, according to Gibbons, who has been involved in the process.
“It has involved a lot of dedication, effort and time from a lot of people,” said Gibbons, who estimated traveling more than 100,000 miles because of it.
He became involved in the state restaurant associations in Michigan and Ohio, where his company operated restaurants. He served on the board and as chairman for the Michigan Restaurant Association.
Gibbons was nominated for the national association’s board in 1999 and elected to it in 2000. He agreed to serve three three-year terms and has served as treasurer and vice chairman for the past 18 months. Gibbons will serve as chairman for 18 months as the association switches operating from a fiscal to calendar year.
During his tenure on the national board, he served on the realignment and strategic plan committees, as well as the search committee for the new chief executive officers. Gibbons has also led the executive, government affairs and political action committees.
Gibbons spent three days in Annapolis, Md., in July planning the September board meeting with the executive committee.
The NRA is involved in numerous national issues, according to Gibbons. The economy and consumer confidence are at the top of the list with others that include immigration reform, insurance, cap and trade, taxes and the national debt and how it will affect the restaurant industry, he said.
The restaurant association supports legislation that addresses menu labeling that is affordable for restaurants to provide nutritional information to consumers.
“We have already done this in our restaurants,” Gibbons said.
Mainstreet Ventures operates 17 restaurants in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Maryland and West Virginia with a total of about 1,200 employees.
The company owns and operates The Real Seafood Company and Zia’s restaurants at The Docks in International Park in Toledo and Ciao! Ristorante in Sylvania.
Founded in 1981, the Mainstreet group is based in Ann Arbor where most of its restaurants are located. Gibbons joined the original owners, Dennis Serras and Dieter Boehm who had more than 50 years of combined experience in the restaurant business. Gibbons and Serras continued to operate the business after Boehm retired.
After Serras opened The Real Seafood Company in downtown Ann Arbor in 1975 and planned another restaurant, he approached Gibbons with whom he had worked in a restaurant in Cincinnati.
Gibbons joined Serras to open The Real Seafood Company in Downtown Toledo at the former Portside marketplace in 1984. After the marketplace closed, they relocated the restaurant to The Docks at International Park in 1999.
They opened Zia’s, a home-style Italian restaurant, next to it in 2000.
It’s tradition of Italian cuisine continued with Ciao! Ristorante opening in Sylvania in 1992. It was named for the Italian greeting for “hello and goodbye.”
“Toledo is a tough market with a lot of competition in the restaurant business,” Gibbons said. “The loss of white- and blue- collar jobs with discretionary spending is my concern in Toledo.”
After opening the restaurants in this area, Gibbons said they liked the Toledo area so much that he and his family moved to Sylvania.
“I just love Downtown Toledo and encourage businesses to come Downtown,” Gibbons said.
Although his company doesn’t have any immediate plans for expansion in Toledo, Gibbons said he may consider opening another restaurant Downtown.
“We’re pretty satisfied with where we are in this economy. We’re working harder for every dollar in sales, managing leaner than ever and always seeking opportunities to provide value for our guests without reducing our quality,” Gibbons said.
One new concept is a chef-driven burger and drink for $10.
The design is completed with preparations under way to sign a lease for the first restaurant in Dayton, Gibbons said.
“We try to create a restaurant for the market we’re going into with a unique menu and design. It’s the advantage of being a small owner-driven company,”
Gibbons said. “I’m really infatuated with this concept, which is totally different from our other restaurants.”
Tags: Mainstreet Ventures